After months of controversy, the 'Save Main Road' group has filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Riverhead Town Board for what they believe was an "improper" awarding of special use permits regarding the proposed Village at Jamesport development.
"The action is focused on voiding those permits, and also on highlighting gross errors in the town’s approval process," a press release from Save Road members states.
The suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court on August 3.
'Save Main Road' their intention to seek legal action. According to a press release sent out by the group on Thursday, the intent of the action is to "hold board members accountable for a cascade of failures in approving these permits."
The release states that the the filing was delayed in part by the complexity of the case, and in part because certain departments at Town Hall were largely non-responsive to Freedom of Information Law requests for relevant information.
"Most folks we know in Riverhead are suffering from legal fatigue," the release states. "It seems that every week, someone else is suing, or settling with, the town board. Thoughtful citizens will start wondering why, and should at least consider the possibility that many of these new potential liabilities are due in large measure to a pattern of elected officials & staff not following the law."
, Georgette Keller, a founder of the "Save Main Road" organization, which seeks to preserve rural character on Main Road from Route 105 to the Southold Town line, announced othat the group had retained Westhampton attorney Bo Bishop, who has provided concessions in his fees to provide oversight during the site plan review process regarding a controversial project, the Village at Jamesport.
In addition, said group member Larry Simms, the plan was to seek an Article 78 to overturn a recent decision by the Riverhead Town Board that hat would allow for bistros and professional offices at a proposed development, the Village at Jamesport.
Two special permit applications were submitted by Jul-Bet Enterprises in 2007 for the project, which would be sited across the street from Cliff's Elbow Room.
Special permits are necessary because current rural corridor zoning only allows for certain uses.
Simms said at the time that he found it "astonishing" that the Riverhead Town board moved forward with the vote, stating that the project would result in diminished traffic in the area and tax base benefits, referring to what Simms said were not accurate statistics. "Either the town board is not reading these things or they just don't care," he said.
According to Simms, a Sag Harbor group, the Northern Environmental Law Center, agreed to help file suit against Riverhead Town, in the form of an Article 78. "In many ways, this is a lawless town," Simms said. "They are taking on this case because it sends a message: Our mission is to change the way Riverhead Town does business."
Save Main Road members say the tax base benefits stated by the developor of the project were overstated by "nearly $200,000 per year."
The release lists a number of reasons given by the town board, including the belief that granting special uses would bolster the tax base and reduce traffic, that they believe are false.
"Whatever their real reasons for voting as they did, it was arrogant," the release states.
Neither the Riverhead town attorney nor the town supervisor responded immediately to a request for comment.